Original thinking is goal for CMC English prof | PostIndependent.com

Original thinking is goal for CMC English prof

Mike McKibbin
Special to the Post Independent
Erin Beaver, this year's full-time faculty of the year honoree at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle, helps her English students with an assignment. Students pictured, L-R: Maria Cook, Gethzemani Dominguez and Noah Swisher. Photo Elizabeth Atkinson

RIFLE – Students in Erin Beaver’s English classes at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle should not think as she does.

“I don’t want them to think like I think or write what they think I want to hear,” said Beaver, an assistant professor at the college and this year’s full-time faculty of the year at the Rifle campus. “My goal is always to help them learn how to think and connect that with how they’re living their lives, connecting their learning experience with their lived experience.”

Every year, each of Colorado Mountain College’s seven campuses, plus the college’s department of online learning, can nominate an adjunct (part-time) and a full-time faculty of the year. From those honorees, senior administrators then select a collegewide award recipient in each category.

Beaver is in her second year of teaching at the college. She splits her time between the campuses in Rifle and Glenwood Springs-Spring Valley, along with teaching some online classes. Before that, Beaver taught for four years at a Missouri community college as well as sixth- through eighth-graders on a Native American reservation.

Of her first years as an instructor, Beaver said, “I really saw how I could share my love for learning with others. When you think about it, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Beaver said she tries to work with her students in a collaborative approach.

“I like using group activities to help them work through an issue and come to an understanding on whatever the subject might be,” she said.

In the nomination form for the faculty honor, fellow instructor Michael Reyelts said Beaver’s approach benefits students and peers alike.

“As a new and young faculty member, she brings an enthusiasm to the workplace and classroom,” he wrote. “What a great example of a great teacher. Her excitement for teaching is contagious. We are very fortunate to have her as a faculty member at Rifle.”

Bob McGill, the adjunct faculty of the year for the Rifle campus, said he gets a lot of fulfillment from seeing his science and math students progress and learn.

“I think it’s rare to be able to leave an intellectual legacy of sorts at this time of my life,” the longtime community college instructor said. “I really think the greatest gratification comes from helping students improve how they think and how that relates to what their goals are. Knowledge is worth much more than money, and it’s supposed to be shared. To be part of that process is a real privilege.”

McGill has taught at the college since 2001, when he and his wife, Carol, moved to the area from the East Coast. McGill started teaching in the 1970s and retired as an engineer at Honeywell in 1990. McGill said his work experience included radar and air traffic control, both of which involve math.

“I think that’s really helped me teach,” he said. “I can relate numbers to actual work environments and help the students make the connection.”

In proposing McGill for the honor, the campus nominating committee wrote: “His positive attitude and personal warmth attract students and co-workers alike. His friendliness helps to create an effective learning environment in the classroom and throughout the campus.”

Along with classes in subjects like physics, statistics, trigonometry, concurrent enrollment courses for both high school and college credit, and distance learning, McGill teaches fly tying at the college.

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